Sunday 23 July 2017

Pitch invasion ban for provincial finals on way

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA will look to extend the ban on post-match pitch invasions to provincial finals over the next two years.

The provincial councils have been asked to examine how they would go about replicating the ban that has successfully worked in Croke Park.

GAA president Christy Cooney believes that the current ban in Croke Park, aided by a screen at the Hill 16 end, is helping to educate supporters that there is a better way for post- match presentations to happen.

And he has also predicted that the success of the current programme will result in the barrier being taken down in the next couple of years.

"I think the education programme worked and in fairness to our patrons they have responded very positively," said Cooney. "I think if you look at last Sunday and see the reception of the Dublin team when they went around the pitch with the cup.

"It was tremendous and that's what we want to see. I think the days of pitch invasions being a concern in Croke Park is nearly gone.

"I would hope that in the next year or two -- and I think Liam O'Neill (next president) would be positive about this -- that we would be in a position to take down the barrier that exists on Hill 16.

"And I would hope that would happen and I would hope that what has happened in Croke Park would spread to our provincial games as well because it's about spectators enjoying the game, but also enjoying the success of their teams afterwards and being able to thank them.

"I also feel it's very important for the players. What an occasion it was for the Dublin hurlers to be able to go around with the cup last Sunday and to do it in a healthy, safe environment and they all go off the field comfortable, knowing they had won a great league final and that they were thrilled with the occasion and able to bring the cup to their fans."

The strategy will be attempted at provincial grounds this summer, according to Cooney.

"We've asked provincial councils to examine it. We've asked them to work their way through it over the next two or three years and try and develop that.

"There's the same danger for players and spectators as there is at an All-Ireland final.

"We want it to be a safe and welcoming environment for everybody and we'd hope there will be no pitch invasions at any of our county grounds.

"The various councils have been asked to work on a development strategy over the next number of years to create a similar type of situation to Croke Park."

Meanwhile, Cooney has no desire to see a change in the league hurling formats next year.

The president believes the cut and thrust of promotion and relegation should remain and that keeping Division 2 as competitive as possible is also paramount for the development of hurling.

Irish Independent

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